#TheRoadToMars – a little info to chew on

So now that the word is out, it’d probably a good idea to give some details on my new book. That being said, here goes. The title itself, The Road to Mars, comes from a concept I had about four years ago. Back when I was still exploring the notion of getting published (wow, that was a while ago!). The story was meant to be a post-apocalyptic tale, but with a twist. The twist being that I wasn’t attempting to write about zombies, a killer outbreak, or a killer outbreak which causes the zombies. Rather, I wanted a post-apocalyptic tale where all the light is slowly being “eaten.” Hence, that’s where the Pulse came into play.

As you can read on the back cover, I give a hint as to what the “Pulse” truly is. And what’s causing it. In my story, Mars has already been colonized and has slowly formed itself into a quasi-utopian society. By the time The Road to Mars is underway, Mars has eclipsed the Earth in technology, wealth, and overall human welfare. There are no murders. There is only prosperity. And there is peace. 

Naturally, Mars’ leaders – being the visionaries and proud people they are – decide it would be a good idea to share with the Earth what’s made them so powerful. And of course, this is where everything goes haywire. Or should I say, “explodes in their faces.”

I’ll leave the rest of the explanation for the faithful who will be reading it. I’d prefer not to give away too much on the topic. Just rest assured that this particular backstory will be delved into with greater detail.

Be back with (a little) more at a later date. Till then, enjoy the weekend!

The Worst of Enemies

I wanted to share an epiphany I had this week. One that has to do with the battles we face. Trouble is (ironically), I’ve been fighting my own battle as to find the proper medium to share it. Mostly, because I wanted it to be short and sweet. A quick dose of pick-me-up and then gone. But Twitter only allows 160 characters and Facebook is chock full of random quizzes, shared videos, and daily updates about bad drivers so I didn’t want it to get lost in cyberspace. So back to the blog we go.

My moment of clarity came whilst I was standing on familiar terrain: warring over a crucial decision. And doing so with myself. There’s such a tendency to point fingers in life – to make it appear that we, ourselves, are without fault and the world is against us. In many ways, the world can be cruel, but the more I travel through this thing called ‘life’, I find the greatest enemy isn’t necessarily the Devil or any one person or circumstance: it’s me. If you’re a Type-A, insanely-driven perfectionist, you can relate. If you’re a Type-B, oftentimes procrastinator, you can also relate. And if you’re someone who isn’t sure of either, you too can relate. Basically, I feel like any one person can relate to being one’s own worst enemy.

This conclusion doesn’t sound practical. I feel we’d prefer not to believe we have an evil doppleganger somewhere inside of us. After all, that sounds crazy. However, I’d argue that we do. I’ve experienced it and I’m willing to bet that so many others have too. And he’s bigger and more in control than you think. The reason? He’s all about survival; reaction to situation. Not about living life, not about conquering new heights, and certainly not about victory.

There are several major projects I’m working towards – a novel, a short story compilation, a new website – so at times, I find myself becoming easily overwhelmed. And something inside me says, “Hey, it’s too much. Take a break.” And I do. And then a day, maybe two days later, I resent myself for taking that breather. So I gear up. I get going. And a week later, I’m further along. Then the voice returns and I’m back to being comfortable. Then, almost immediately after, I am defeated again. Ugh.

I’ve tried overcoming this internal enemy many times in my life, but only now – some 30 years later – am I getting a better handle on how to press through his advances. The secrets aren’t necessarily buried in well-written self-help books; no, I’ve found silent time to be the most life-giving. Quieting the mind is of utmost importance. It keeps distractions from becoming the focus and it keeps you from focusing on those distractions. I cringe when I hear people say they’re “so busy” all the time. Are you really? Or are you just really, really distracted? There is a difference. Consider if this applies to your life and take action against that.

As a writer, it’s so incredibly easy to get distracted. A new idea comes along and *ping*, it’s off to the races. But if the idea fizzles out and nothing gets done, then that feels like a failure. Then that voice comes back again. “You’ll never finish”; “Your ideas aren’t that good, try something else” – this is what can go through your head as a writer. More so than I’ve given credit to in the past, but I’m learning how to quiet that noise. How it’s me I’m fighting; not my next publication. A freeing and liberating feeling; one I’m slowly becoming more familiar with.

Oh, What Thoughts Awaken in the Early Morn’

There was a full moon the other night. That could be one reason as to why I’m feeling the way I do. My family – specifically those on my father’s side – find ourselves affected by the light of a full moon in strange ways. We aren’t secretly werewolves or some members of the occult; no, we just get a little antsy when there’s too much light in the room. Or too little.

I feel like a strange creature because I like the dark as much as I like the light. Some of my best work can happen in the dark while conversely, some of my best learning experiences can occur in the light of day. It’s a curious conundrum I find myself within. To think that in order for people to enjoy a good book or a good read, I must immerse myself in darkness; in secret; away from the world until that work is ready. If Edgar Allan Poe were still alive, I’m sure he’d agree. Only while others are asleep, I find myself awake. Conversely, when I prefer to sleep, others come awake themselves. What an interesting arrangement, this is – this whole light and dark business. Other writers and storytellers must find themselves in this same, ambiguous mess. I like the challenge, personally, even if the concept makes little sense to anyone else.

The one comfort I find in writing is that it reminds me of a common truth: I’m human. A being that indulges in darkness and light alike, or rather, dwells in both. The scientific term would be cathemeral (active in both night or day) but that description alone does not do the human condition justice. People often relate pain with dark times while joyful days are just that – days, but with light abounding. Why is this so? As a writer, I feel most invigorated in the early morning. When the world is still waking up for the day, I’m the most alive in thought. The light hasn’t fully reached me where I am, if you will. And when I feel the least inspired, the least likely to produce a good work, is the middle of a sunny day. How can that be so? Is it because I absorb the day so I can expunge what I’ve gathered at night? Something to consider, I suppose, if nothing else.

So this tightrope walk I’m on goes onward – drawn to the light on one end, but drawn to the dark just as much. And not because I desire dark times or eternal dusk; no, that isn’t it. I simply know where I must be if I am to work at my best. And it typically isn’t in the face of a hot sunbeam. Maybe one day I’ll adapt, but I’m curious if other authors or writers throughout history would agree. Or vehemently disagree. Either or, I’m intrigued to know the answer.

So here I am. It’s early morning; I’m immersed in my early morning thoughts, immersed in the unsteady nature that my thoughts bring, but excited at the possibility of what may occur should I tame these thoughts for proper application. And all the while, I am wondering when the sun will take hold of me again. For when it does, I’ll be thrust out of the dark room of my own understanding and thrown back into a world of new understandings – ones far beyond my foresight and well beyond my own making. Perhaps that way, when the dark returns, I will have had time to make right the chaos of these early morning voices. My thoughts will have been tamed in radiant sun; unable to hide away in the dark recesses of my own imagination. Oh, what a grand feeling that will be. And oh, what a great moment it’ll be for me to share. For the tasks I’ve completed in secret – or in darkness, if you will – will at last have the opportunity to be enjoyed by others. And in the light of day, no doubt.

“Spirit Run” – part 7

They say that seven is a magic number. A lucky number – orr at least a very significant number throughout history.

1. Mickey Mantle was number seven. He was a pretty darned good ballplayer.
2. 7Up is a well-known drink. As are Seven-Elevens. Only they aren’t drinks.
3. James Bond is 007. Nuff said there.
4. Major books series tend to go for seven volumes; even if they end up being 8 movies. Harry Potter, anyone?
5. It’s feared by all other numbers – you know, why was 10 afraid of 7? Because 7, 8, 9. Read it aloud if it’s having difficulty getting it.
6. There are seven days in a week.
7. And fianlly, God created the heavens, Earth, and all other creatures in six days. Then he rested on the seventh. That’s about as big as it gets when it comes to number significance – not counting any mathematical jargon that I’m just not feeling up to typing.

So seven has some real significance. That’s the good news. As for my part 7 in Spirit Run, it’s neither lucky nor overly significant. That’s still good news but not great either. It’s really just part 7. That’s it. So I hope you enjoyed this little lesson on the number seven. You’re very welcome.

On a more serious note, this next section is continuing on from where the Shadows are attacking. I’ll upload this portion into the main Spirit Run hub on the home page so it flows with the previous posts.

Thanks to all who have given feedback already. It is much appreciated. This work has been butchered and broken up as I go onward so the more the merrier.

Enjoy.

Armin’s body poured out light on both sides. A massive spear formed in his left hand, a shield on his right – ready for battle. He flapped his right wing, deflecting the Shadow momentarily as he prepped himself for the attack. The Shadow appeared to be phased by the ricochet but it returned quickly – this time moving faster than before. Armin raised his shield – a golden crucifix, glowing in radiant light – blocked the Shadow’s advanced play. But it did not stop there; the Shadow wrapped itself over top of the shield, attempting to consume Armin from the top down. Armin ducked and plunged his spear forward, gouging the Shadow at its centermost point. The Shadow cried and retreated quickly, its tentacle arms losing ground in the distance.
“Not yet is what I said! And it’s not yet, is it?!”
Harda, also exposed in the darkness, burned with light as a bow took shape over his shoulder. A quiver, full of golden arrows, shimmered on his backside. He reached for one, just beyond his white wings, and drew back to fire. When he released, the arrow – made of light – struck the black mist faster than the eye could follow, slicing the Shadow in half. The trajectory of his shot shimmered from the tips of his fingers to the point of contact. Another foul scream burst forth and the Shadow retreated again.
“Ha!” shouted Armin. “I was wondering when they’d finally make a run at us!” The Angel plunged his spear against the darkness over and over again, each time pushing the Shadow back even further. Harda flew overhead with ease, blazing the enemy with his well-timed arrows while Armin rammed his shield against anything in his vicinity.
“When we said, ‘let them come’, they must have been listening!” shouted Harda. His golden arrows left trails of light all about the Trio like, a storm of gold and white filling the sphere inside the barrier. His bowstring sung with every pull and release and the Shadow appeared to be losing ground.
Balphin looked up at his brethren. Darkness was sweeping around on every side. The barriers that had once covered the runners were crumbling everywhere, the orbs and Newborns consumed by black mist. Balphin could sense their own barrier reaching its limit. He slashed his sword one more time, cutting the hands of darkness that tried to reach the Newborn.
“As my brother just decreed,” said Balphin, pulling back on the hilt. “Not yet!” The mighty Balphin hammered the darkness as it swirled around the Newborn; his angelic brethren holding off their enemies above. The battles grew in ferocity – Armin’s head shined and a helmet appeared upon him. Harda’s arm became encased with light, a protective cover shaping on his forearm. And Balphin’s body glowed till a breastplate fully formed upon his torso. The Shadow dug deeper, disregarding the Trio’s defenses.
The Newborn, meanwhile, continued its brisk walk without any regard for what was transpiring. He moved slowly with arms swaying at his side. The noise of swords swinging, arrows flying, and spears piercing did nothing to affect his movement. Chaos was everywhere yet he soldiered onward; oblivious to the war going on around him. A shower of arrows covered the ground in front of the Newborn and a sword, as big as the Newborn itself, slammed the ground next to him. Still, the Newborn was inattentive as the battle ensued.
“Balphin!” shouted Harda. “Watch your back. More coming for you.” Balphin reacted swiftly. He swooped around the Newborn and cut the lurking hands of the Shadow.
“Thanks, old friend,” shouted Balphin. “Still as quick on my toes ever, aren’t I?”
“Good, they are,” said Armin. “But the worst is yet to come.”
“Agreed,” said Balphin.
Armin must have been heard by the darkness; for it rescinded its assault and disappeared.
“Interesting…,” said Harda, hand ready at the bow. His wings flapped gently, the sound like a single raindrop on the surface of water. There was utter silence everywhere, but the Trio stayed on guard.
“It’s still here…,” said Armin. “It’s here but we can’t see it.”
“Where? Where is it?”
The Trio had not changed; their bodies glowed and their physical forms remained. Balphin and the others searched the entirety of the space, but could find nothing.
“Show yourself!” cried Balphin. His broadsword glistened in the aura of the Newborn, but the Shadow did not appear. All was still until the Newborn stopped moving forward. “What’s this?”
The Newborn had halted; arms at its side and legs together. Its head turned left, then right, and then up. Nothing moved, not even the Trio as they watched. Armin and Harda hovered, their wings stretching across the space above. Armin tightened his grip on his spear and Harda pulled the bowstring tighter. But there was nothing. No sound or stir in the abyss. Then the plane beneath the Newborn started to shake violently. The barrier shook and a small light formed under the Newborn’s feet.
“Balphin!” shouted Harda. Armin and Harda descended with haste but it was too late. The barrier cracked on all sides. A deafening scream overtook the Trio and a whirlwind of dark energy flooded the once concealed fortress. A gray cloud formed all about the Newborn, circling and rising like a tornado. Balphin was swept towards the Newborn uncontrollably, sucked in by the force.
“Get out of there!” shouted Armin. Balphin struggled to gain ground, his platinum hair flailed wildly towards the black hole that had formed. Then he sheathed his sword and leapt from the Newborn.
“What did we do?” asked Harda. “Did we miss anything? Didn’t we guard it well enough?”
“No,” said Armin. “We did all that we could. Remember, this was not our burden. This must have come from within.”
The cloud exploded, blinding the Angels and knocking them backwards. Light bounced in all directions, searching for a place to land. The Trio was separated as a cloud settled upon the area where the Newborn had been. A filthy haze formed all through the plane. The Newborn, once burning bright, was nowhere to be seen.
“No…,” said Balphin. “They were… they were too much….”
“Indeed,” said Armin. “The temptations were too heavy. What now?” The Trio relinquished their weapons and returned to their posts. High above the debris, they flapped their wings in earnest defeat, but to keep themselves aloft. Gravity, which had all but not existed till now, took hold of the Trio.
I honestly…maybe this time…, thought Harda. The words escaped from his mind like a soft breeze and gently grazed the ear of Armin.
“What was that?” asked Armin, unable to hear Harda clearly.
“I was just thinking,” said Harda, his head hung low. “Could you not hear me clearly?”
“Just faintly,” said Armin. “It’s happening, isn’t it?”
“We’re between planes now,” explained Balphin. “We’ll have to use our voices more frequently from here on out. Light won’t communicate as effectively as it once did.”
“You are right,” said Harda, head perking up. “That also means that we are further along than we thought.”